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Old 10-01-2003, 10:56 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 43
Need Advice from Mechanics/DIYers

I am an avid car enthusiast but lack any auto mechanic skills . I am a network engineer by profession but would like to work on my own car during my free time. Can any of you please provide me with some insight as to how I can go about to learn how to fix my own car and also what the best way is to get some experience without destroying my car? I also thought of getting formal training but can't seem to find a place that is close enough to where I live. I would like to focus on Mercedes/BMW engines.
How did you guys learn how to fix cars?
Thanks in advance.
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Old 10-01-2003, 11:13 AM
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Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Phoenix
Posts: 3,726
Certainly one way to start is at the bookstore or library with books on general automotive repair. Also try to get a service manual on your car. Then just dig in, starting with the easier jobs. I've learned from personal experience that when you start dong more complex jobs it's nice to have a relationship with a good natured mechanic willing to clean up your errors and omissions.
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Old 10-01-2003, 11:56 AM
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Join Date: May 2002
Location: Mass
Posts: 1,127
Re: Need Advice from Mechanics/DIYers

Originally posted by rpm8100

How did you guys learn how to fix cars?
Trial, error, and necessity (lack of funds).

If you want to get into engine internals, see if your local vocational school has night classes.
If you want to learn on your own, get a cheap project car, and tear it apart. Better to learn on something you are not depending upon to get you to work on Monday!

Also, selecting a model that has really good manuals available for it would be a good choice. A model with a lot of room to work would be helpful as well. Finding a good machine shop is key for engine work.

Best of luck.
1986 300E 5-Speed 240k mi.
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Old 10-01-2003, 12:22 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: California
Posts: 49
Read on manuals and books or browse through the "search" feature in this forum for anything you need to know. I used to own Japanese cars and didn't have any clue on German cars. Although I know how to fix cars, a Benz is a Benz.

Like what Nike says, "JUST DO IT"

Good luck
95 C220
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Old 10-01-2003, 12:49 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Colleyville, Texas
Posts: 2,694
If some one wanted to become and engineer, what would you tell him. Start with the basics. And study.

Go get a copy of "Car Repair For Dummies" Or the "Idiots Guide to Car Repair". Start here. Once you have a basic grasp of the mechanical setup of a car. Buy a SAE automotive study book such as "Modern Automotive Technology" by James Duffy. This is a book to prepare to take the SAE automotive certification test. It will explain various sections of the car in general detail to prepare someone for the SAE test.
This will be a reference book. Then you increase your knowledge towards your specific car. Its not light reading, but your not taking the test. Certian sections I have re-read for more knowledge. Other sections I have just skimmed for general knowledge.
Lots of diagrams, pictures and exploded diagrams to explain various systems.
It is expensive. $75-100. But a great sorce book.
Look at it at Barnes and Nobles or and book store.

As posted above, get a $100 beater and take it apart. Them try to put it back together. Thats how the majority of the people on the forum learned. A knowledgable freind will also be an asset.
Jon the Mercedes Benz Club Of America. Each month we have "do it your self" sessions at various auto shops. Go, watch and ask.

1970 220D, owned 1980-1990
1980 240D, owned 1990-1992
1982 300TD, owned 1992-1993
1986 300SDL, owned 1993-2004
1999 E300, owned 1999-2003
1982 300TD, 213,880mi, owned since Nov 18, 1991- Aug 4, 2010 SOLD
1988 560SL, 100,000mi, owned since 1995
1965 Mustang Fastback Mileage Unknown(My sons)
1983 240D, 176,000mi (My daughers) owned since 2004
2007 Honda Accord EX-L I4 auto, the new daily driver
1985 300D 264,000mi Son's new daily driver.(sold)
2008 Hyundai Tiberon. Daughters new car
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Old 10-01-2003, 12:55 PM
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I started out with a Haynes manual and an Alfa Romeo (my first car).

The Alfa gave me a really hard time so I was lucky coz I had to learn how to keep it running everyday!

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Old 10-01-2003, 01:11 PM
I told you so!
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Motor City, MI
Posts: 2,743
One thing not yet mentioned is that you have to like doing it... at least like it enough to feel good about the savings from doing it yourself. If you don't like doing it, all bets are off.

All us DIYers scrape our knuckles, wrestle with bolts that won't budge, and invent new swear words, but once we wash our hands we have a feeling of accomplishment on a job well done and feel good about the money we saved. That's what separates us from the people that would rather dish out their hard-earned money to have somebody else crawl under the car.
95 E320 Cabriolet, 131K
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Old 10-01-2003, 01:54 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2002
Posts: 1,158
Start by getting a good repair manual and then begin by doing basic things like changing oil,plugs,trans fluid, fuelfilters and such
Just remember to read everything at least twice and keep in mind mistakes can be expensive.
Good luck
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Old 10-01-2003, 08:52 PM
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Location: franklin,mass
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I started by hanging around a guys garage untill he gave me a part time job. That was 7 years ago. Now I know just enough to be dangerous. Lots of fun, part time. I could'nt do it full time, it would take the fun out of it for me. steve
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Old 10-02-2003, 12:31 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 320
Tools are very important. If you have the right tools, it can make a big difference.
94 E320 58000 Miles

Last edited by zafarhayatkhan; 10-02-2003 at 05:17 PM.
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Old 10-02-2003, 05:07 PM
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California Dreaming
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: SF Bay Area
Posts: 599
Before you commence with any automotive repairs you must first consult the knuckle gods. Privately you must let them know you are willing to sacrifice the flesh from your knuckles in order to gain mechanical wisdom!

I vould vecomend getting a VW bug, or a Rabbit/Scirocco to begin your on za job training. Haynes company produces zome great materialz for tzese products and it vill break you into ze German vay ov doing zings!

I vould stronlgy suggest you study za viring because it iz consistent through all ze German carzzzzz! Besidez zat is vhere you vill fiind za most fun vhile vorking on ze carz.
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Old 10-02-2003, 05:29 PM
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Join Date: May 1999
Location: Philadelphia, PA USA
Posts: 272
Always use the right tools

Always always always use the right tools. Get both metric and standard tools of everything, from sockets to allen wrenches, hex bolts. I always buy Craftsman tool, some people use Snap On but,I can't see the not using Craftsman when you can just walk right in and buy them from the store with the lifetime warranty, which i've used many time, sometimes right in the middle of a job..
Once again buy as many tools as you can. The price of the tool is nothing compared to what the shop will charge to do the same job.

Peter L. House
1998 Sport E430
Azure Blue
110,000k Miles

1987 Oldsmobile Cutlass Salon
V8 Bucket Seats
Factory Moon Roof
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Old 10-02-2003, 05:31 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: New Hampshire
Posts: 158
I second the notion of having the right tools. They make all the difference in the world. My collection has grown substantially since undertaking projects on my 190.
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Old 10-02-2003, 05:44 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Falls Church, VA
Posts: 5,315
One of the things that has always helped me is a "gas engines" class that I took in high school. It really focused on the basics of how an engine works. Pistons, crank, cams, timing, the four strokes, spark, coil, basic electronics, etc. It provides a basis for the stuff specific to your car.

We completely disassembled/re-assembled a Ford flathead V8.

You might see if there is something like this at an adult ed or community college in your area.
Chuck Taylor
Falls Church VA
'66 200, '66 230SL, '96 SL500. Sold: '81 380SL, '86 300E, '72 250C, '95 C220, 3 '84 280SL's '90 420SEL, '72 280SE, '73 280C, '78 280SE, '70 280SL, '77 450SL, '85 380SL, '87 560SL, '85 380SL, '72 350SL, '96 S500 Coupe
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Old 10-02-2003, 07:28 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Brandon, Mississippi
Posts: 4,941

It is also very helpful if your "study car" is not your daily driver so that you can take your time (and correct mistakes) as you go along.
15 VW Passat TDI
97 S500
86 Holden Jackaroo Turbo D
86 300SDL
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